"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Genesis 1:1-2:4a; or 1:1-5, 26-2:4a Commentary
by Mark Throntveit
The major obstacle in this text is getting past the first verse.
Whether we read "In the beginning. . ." (e.g. Revised Standard Version) or "When God began to create . . ." (e.g. New Revised Standard Version alternate reading) this verse often prompts heated discussions of evolution, intelligent design, creationism, and big bangs. But suppose we looked at the text as a literary whole; what might it say to us?
We might begin by noting that the repeated vocabulary ("God," "created," "heaven," and "earth") in 1:1-2 and 2:1-3 (not 2:4a as often claimed) forms an inclusion that brackets 1:3-31, the six days of creation. Within that inclusion, the alternate New Revised Standard Version reading precludes "creation out of nothing" in favor of seeing verse 2 as a description of the already existing "earth" as "formless and void," that is, as a watery chaos.
If correct, this means we should look for an ordering of a primeval chaos in God's creative activity in 1:3-31; and that's what we find: a divine divide and conquer operation against chaos.
In verses 3-13, ...
| Bible Text
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2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 001: Creation
September 11, 2011
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Craig Koester for "I Love to Tell the Story," a weekly conversation on the narrative lectionary. This week's reading is Creation, Genesis 1:1--2:4a.